Warriors One Love Community Centre is an educational and community space located near Arusha, Tanzania, that provides courses for free. The Centre was founded with the intention of supporting orphans and destitute children by Lwanda Magere, frontsinger of the Warriors from the East reggae band in 2010. Currently, the Centre is led by Samuel Chege Ngari (his interview). The following is an interview with Lisa Lombardo, who does public relations and donations work with the Centre. For more info, check out http://www.onelovecentre.wordpress.com
1. Share a story involving Warriors One Love Community Centre.
I personally as a German did not spend that much time in the centre directly. I just got in contact with it when I was volunteering in a hospital close to Moshi and made friends with the nowadays leader Blackgzas Dadi. However, my times there always have been short, I can share that the centre to me was and is kind of a second home. During my one year in Tanzania I was in need of help and became very lonely while being so far away from my German home, family and friends. That was when the centre gave me a new home, friends and nearly something like a family – Thanks for that!
2. What is Warriors Community Centre? How did it start?
In 2010, Lwanda Magere, frontsinger of the Warriors from the East reggae band, founded a centre for orphans and destitute children in Arushas suburb Kimandolo in the north of Tanzania. The Warriors One Love Community Centre represents a place where children and young people have space to meet, to practice sports or to get tutoring, with the aim of giving them assistance to be independent and educated people who are in charge of their own lives and able to return something to the society later on.
In 2012, Blackgzas Dadi became the head of the project and now leads a team that has taken on this task and is committed deeply in it. It is a mixture of talented and dedicated artists and volunteer teachers and tutors, that all have been working with children for years. Many of the members of the centre were brought up as orphans or street children and want to help children in similar situations now. Also former volunteers from abroad, like me as a German who worked in Moshi for one year, and international supporters are part of the project to form a melting pot of cultures, talents and impressions in order to ensure learning on many levels, as it gives a stimulating environment and a variety of inspiring teachers. Thus the children become part of something to be proud of and discover their personal talents. School fees have not to be raised.
Right now about 60 children and teenagers receive the program, which provides them games, sports, computer classes and an afternoon program with tutoring. Of course the centre is an English medium school to improve the language skills. The program allows the children a lot of freedom, so that they can discover their strengths and talents and learn to take responsibility for their education and their future.
3. Where are you guys located? What is it like for people growing up in your communit(ies)? What kinds of struggles do young people face?
Me myself I was born and raised in Cologne in the west of Germany. Cologne is a very big city, where you can meet many different people and have a lot of different cultural offers. That’s where I moved back to now. I grew up in a small family with my younger sister and finished secondary school two years ago, so that I am now able to study medicine. I am very thankful for all the chances I have got in my life, because even in a country like Germany there are people suffering. We have big problems in our education system, which means that the government is not able to offer the same proper education to everyone and many young people have problems to find jobs that are well paid so that they could found a family. That’s the hardest task for many young Germans, I think. So like I said I am very thankful for my family and the education I got.
However, the centre itself is located close to Arusha in the north of Tanzania and the struggles young people are facing are similar to the German ones: A bad education system and insecure and low paid jobs. That’s where we want to become active and educated the youth of our community properly.
4. What is “community”?
To me community is the connection of different people around one place. This place can be bigger or smaller, starting in a house and family, growing to a town or city or being a whole country or continent. The aim of community to me is sharing. Not only material things like food, cloths or water but even time, knowledge and love. The important thing of a community is that everyone is part of it – if he likes to be or not – the young and free as well as the old and wise. That’s how sharing works, cause everyone, doesn’t matter what he does, knows or earns, has something to give and to teach.
5. Does the centre have a “philosophy of education”?
To me the centre’s philosophy first of all is that education should be offered to everyone. It should not depend on age, family background , religion or money. That’s why our program is for free. The other thing is, that education for us not only means maths, history or English, but also different types of art and practical skills. We want to offer a place where young people can discover themselves, their talents and strengths and where they can learn how to be part of the community and give something back to it. That’s education for us and the philosophy leading the centre.
6. Talk about the project of integrating Tanzania/Germany and other countries as part of an international education.
The plan is to have volunteers from abroad – Germany and other countries – and later to go on with exchange programs for students and teachers. During my own time being a volunteer in a Tanzanian hospital I came to discover that the “view abroad” and the changing of perspective is necessary to open your mind to the world and find yourself in it. Furthermore in our world and time it’s important to understand each other and to get closer without to mind about country borders. That’s necessary for reaching a decent and honest society and world. And I hope to be able to offer this mind opening and interconnecting exchange to our students and teachers soon.
7. What kind of services does the centre provide? How can people join Warriors Community Centre and benefit from the services it provides? Are the services provided reserved for a certain age group?
At the moment we have a tutoring English program for young children and for the older ones an English and Computer course as an extra training after they have finished school. We are about to build more practical courses thou: We will have courses for Carpentry, Tailoring and Art workshop, because we want our students to first express themselves and second earning practical skills for making it easier to find a job. Even nowadays all the students that finish the computer and English courses found jobs in town soon, which we are very proud of. Other steps will be an Internet Café and a vegetable garden and snack service. Even there the students will earn skills which they can make use of for the rest of their lives. At the same time all our workshops can be used by community members to ensure their income and vegetables will be given to families in need. Of course, as the centre was founded and is leaded by musicians music plays a role in everything to and we hope to be able to offer a practical music class soon.
8. As there are no school fees, what kinds of creative ways are you guys fundraising to keep the work of the Community Centre going?
We hope to open the internet café and snack service soon so that the centre sustains itself. Otherwise even the Warriors from the East band is supporting the centre, when they are earning with CD selling or concerts as well as German donations. Me myself I am organizing a charity concert in Germany and am still searching for regular supporters.
9. How does Warriors Community Centre provide education? What are the facilities and resources you guys have?
At the moment we are still depending on donations. We got a few laptops and a desktop computer and were able to build a computer classroom and outdoor classroom as well. Our teachers are volunteering in teaching, which means they are working for free, which we would like to change soon, so that it’s easier for our teachers to stay with us and to build up their own lives and families.
10. How long does it take for a student to complete an English or Computer course at the centre?
At the beginning the English and Computer courses were about one year, however, in the previous years we had to face the challenge that many students had to leave the centre before graduating. We found out that this happened due to the fact that one year is too long for being involved in additional courses only and the students were forced to move out. For making it easier for the students to finish our program we would like to intensify and at the same time shorten the English and computer courses down to six months.
11. The centre offers English and Computer courses. Does the centre help provide young people with employment? What kind of employment do graduates find after completing their courses?
We have been very successful in helping our graduates to find an employment. Most of them are able to work in Internet cafés in town through which they can take care of themselves.
We see the human as a whole thing. It’s not only body OR mind, it’s always body AND mind, and we believe that only a mind in a healthy body is able to learn. That’s why we want our students to know about how to treat themselves through the right use of food, herbs and plants and how to increase their strength through sports. The other goal of the garden is, that the students learn how to provide food for themselves and their families.
13. What is the role of music at the centre? What kind of arts training is available?
At the moment we are planning to have a practical music class, because we believe in music being a way of expressing yourself and influencing your environment. Furthermore we will have an Art, Craft and Jewelry workshop, Tailor workshop, Wood and Metal Workshop always on the one hand for our students to express themselves and to build up their creativity and on the other hand for getting practical skills for being employed easier.
14. How can people assist Warriors Community Centre in providing services? (How can people work/volunteer at the centre?)
We are looking for motivated volunteers from just everywhere who have finished any education which they want to share with our teachers and students. Mostly English teachers, ICT teachers or trainers for our workshops are needed.
Projektleiter – Head of project: Samuel Ngari Chege
+255 764 603664
Spendengelder und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit – Donation and public relations: Lisa Lombardo
+49 2302 1719897
+49 173 4670117
Administration: D. Tamino Böhm
+49 157 37256504
+255 759 840781
15. How does the centre aim to motivate in young people?
Through arts and sports and the contact to many different role models we are trying to open our students minds. We want them to understand that they are in charge and responsible for their own lives and that they can build any future they want to have if they are just working and believing hardly. When young people understand this, what they mostly do, the best motivation is growing.
16. What does hip hop mean at Warriors One Love Community Centre, Why get involved in Hip Hop?
Hip Hop or music in general is first of all involved through our teachers and the surrounding of the centre: There are artist living, teaching and practicing everywhere so that the students are influenced by that and they come to discover music as a way of expressing themselves. Otherwise we are planning a practical music class that offers a space to the creativity and personal initiative of the youths, cause it’s in our believe that Hip Hop and other music is able to express feelings and thoughts of a human being and to influence the whole society around the artist and we want our students to become in charge of new influences.
17. Does the centre have access to public space(s) for events?
There is a small place for events in the centre itself and many contacts to different people in town through which events could be planned.
18. Does Warriors One Love Community Centre provide health education and/or health services? Does the centre advise or otherwise support members of the local community in regards to seeking medical care? (Does the centre have any health organization partnerships?) How are health services accessible to members of the community?
Unfortunately at the moment the centre is not able to directly take care of health problems, but as I am becoming a doctor it is one of our future plans. Otherwise like I said before we try to show a healthy way of life through the vegetable garden and food to our students.
19. What kind of opportunities are available for women at Warriors Community Centre?
Women are as welcome as men in our centre – as students as well as teachers. Like I said before: The philosophy of the centre is that humans should be raised in equality, so there is even no difference for us between women and men.
20. How have women contributed to Warriors Community Centre?
Half of the teachers I came to know in the centre have been women – and new ones are always welcome!
21. Does the centre engage with the Government of Tanzania in any way? If so, how?
Right now the centre is not engaged with the government and even in future our freedom is important to us. That’s why we want to become a NGO (non-governmental organization) and not a governmental program.
22. How can people learn more about your organization and projects you are involved in? Talk about any organizations the centre supports or is partnered with.
The easiest way of getting in contact with us or information about us is our blog and homepage www.onelovecentre.wordpress.com . That’s where you get any news. We are working on founding a German partner organization, but also this one will be represented on our blog.
23. How can people support Warriors One Love Community Centre (please include contact info.)
We are looking for volunteers and sponsors who ensure the rent for the house and help us with renovations. Also we are looking for donations such as computers and material. Any ideas and interests can be shared and we can be contacted (in English, Swahili, German or Spanish) through firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks a lot and stay blessed.